Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Dear Sympatico, bite me.

Dear Sympatico,

You have been my Internet service provider for many years now. And your parent company has been my home phone provider too. Though you weren't singled out the last time I sent letters to deserving people, please rest assured that you have totally made the list this time.

Pop quiz: Customer Service -- are you familiar with the term? I can't fault the manners and puppy-like enthusiasm of the people who 'helped' me over the last few weeks, but I am questioning their knowledge of modem technology and/or their familiarity with the names for the myriad bits and pieces needed to set up a wireless modem. Training them to 1) politely agree to send me specific items that I should have had in the first place, and then 2) promptly send me random other things by Express Post is annoying and ultimately unproductive.

Allow me to recap the events of the last few weeks with an emphasis on what your customer-service agents agreed to do for me, and what they ultimately ended up doing for me. Now some of these have nothing to do with Sympatico, except to highlight how frustrated I became when I completed all kinds of peripheral tasks and was still unable to log on to the Internet:
  • July 24, 2009 - after an exceedingly wet July that had saturated the soil around my house, an intense thunderstorm stalled over Kanata/Stittsville/Carp, dropping nearly 6 inches of rain in 3 hours. My basement flooded, and the modem (supplied by Sympatico) was ruined, as it was plugged into a power bar that ended up submerged.
  • A few days later - Called Sympatico Internet and asked them to send me a new modem, as the old one was destroyed in the flood
  • Explained that I couldn't return the malfunctioning one as it was contaminated by stormwater and in a landfill somewhere
  • Got miffed that they still were going to charge me for the modem I would not be returning
  • Realized that I could just submit the invoice to the insurance company, and told Sympatico to send me the new wireless modem and bill me for it
  • Heaved the two boxes into car trunk with Leah's help
  • Dragged/carried the two boxes into the house with Leah's help
  • Assembled Mikael computer desk with Leah's help and Rachel's supervision. This took roughly 3 hours, .5 of which were spent reclaiming the various screwdrivers and hardware from Rachel at various points in the building process
  • Set up computer on the new Mikael computer desk and plugged everything in correctly!
  • Got out the sealed box that Sympatico sent me with the new wireless modem and began to read the instructions. Got to the third or so sentence and read: Contents. You should have the following: modem, power cord, ethernet cable, phone cable, phone-jack splitter, 4 filters.
  • Looked in box. Took out modem and power cord.
  • Turned box over and shook it. Nothing further fell out.
  • Called the Sympatico customer-service number. Spoke to a very nice and apologetic woman in INDIA, who promised to send me the missing pieces (ethernet cable, phone cable, phone-jack splitter, 4 filters) asap. Idly wondered if the parts would be coming from Calcutta by donkey cart or moped taxi.
  • Poured glass of wine and played Mine Sweeper on the computer until bedtime.
  • Two days later, received a package. Was very excited! Opened it to find an ethernet cable, a telephone cable, and 4 filters. No phone-jack splitter. And since I have only one phone jack operational since the flood, it's needed for both the phone and the modem, so a splitter is kind of mandatory.
  • Called Sympatico customer-service number. Spoke to a very nice and apologetic man in India, who promised to send me the missing phone-jack splitter asap.
  • Two days later, received another package. Was very excited! Finally, I'd be back online again! Opened it to find 4 more inline filters. No phone-jack splitter.
  • Said a lot of four-letter words. Wondered if helpful man in India knew what a phone-jack splitter was.
  • Complained about the whole situation to my friend, who told me that I could buy a phone-jack splitter at Dollarama.
  • Purchased phone-jack splitter at Dollarama for $1.25.
  • Finally installed and activated wireless modem more than one month after making the call to replace the ruined modem. Used Canada Post website to calculate that Sympatico probably spent more than $45 to ship me the wrong pieces of equipment, not to mention the cost of the 8 or 10 filters that were sent to me in error.
I hear that Internet service is available through the cable company. I might have to check into that. And I understand that they do telephone service too.

Bite meHave a nice day,



  1. Yikes on a bike! What a mess. I say a switch is in order here.

  2. Natalie1:27 PM

    "Idly wondered if the parts would be coming from Calcutta by donkey cart or moped taxi."

    You made me guffaw! I liked it.

  3. Ah Bell.

    After all the horror stories we heard, when we got internet we went with a dinky little service provider who does only that: provide internet service.

    High enough speed, people who know what they're doing all for $30 (tax included). Gotta love Radioactiv.

  4. This is why I leave the technical computery stuff to our husband.

    Otherwise, I would end up in jail for doing stuff to our local phone/internet company that is completely against the law in most countries.

  5. nice to have you back, and wow, i think i would have gone through withdrawal.

  6. You're alive, you're alive! I was worried.

    Bell makes me bitter. But it's still better than Rogers. Sir Monkeypants is looking into switching us to some other small company that apparently offers intelligent, local support. I'll blog about it if it happens, and then you can come with us to the promised land.

  7. When you said they sent random things I thought you meant like a sausage and a jigsaw puzzle.

  8. Oh don't get me started about Bell Canada. I have no clue how much of my life expectancy has been lost dealing with them... I have given up on India I got so frustrated with the script. They still owe me $75... I don't have the energy to get it back.

  9. Anonymous2:04 AM

    Great post. I was going to write something similar. Will check this blog more often I think.